How to Grow and Care for String of Dolphins (Senecio peregrinus)

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The Dolphin Plant, or String of Dolphins (Senecio peregrinus), is a rare variety of trailing succulent that looks like a pod of leaping dolphins. This uncommon hybrid is not a naturally occurring plant in the wild but rather a hybrid plant, resulting from a cross between String of Pearls (S. rowleyanus) and Candle Plant (Senecio articulatus).

The leaves of the String of Dolphin are fleshy, notched crescents that truly resemble dolphins. In addition to their unbelievable shape, each leaf has a translucent “leaf window”. This adaptation allows sunlight to irradiate the leaf interior and helps the plant tolerate low light conditions.

The String of Dolphins plant exhibits a sprawling growth pattern, either spreading out across the ground or cascading down from a hanging basket. It grows trailing stems that can reach 1.0′ to 3.0′ long. This succulent thrives indoors, particularly when it receives an adequate amount of light. Its aesthetic appeal is enhanced when allowed to spill gracefully from a hanging basket, cascade over bookshelves, or drape along the edge of a stair rail.

String of Dolphins flower

The String of Dolphins (Senecio peregrinus) typically blooms in the spring. During this time, small clusters of dainty white flowers with red to golden-yellow filaments and a cinnamon-like fragrance may develop along the succulent vine

The flowers of the String of Dolphins plant are tightly compacted puffballs, adding to the charm of this unique plant, although they are inconspicuous compared to its adorable dolphin-shaped leaves.

String of Dolphins care

To care for your String of Dolphins succulent, here are some general guidelines:

Light

String of Dolphins thrives in bright, indirect light, but thanks to their leaf windows they can tolerate slightly less light than some non-green succulent varieties.

It is best to place the plant in a south-facing window where it can receive at least six hours of sunlight a day. Avoid exposing the plant to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest parts of the day, as it can easily get sunburned.

If growing indoors, the plant can adapt to medium light conditions, but it still requires a minimum of six hours of sunlight. If you want to place your String of Dolphins outdoors, choose a shaded spot where it will receive indirect or filtered sunlight throughout the day.

Water

String of Dolphins thrives with a bit more frequent watering than most succulents. Water it once or twice a week during the active growing season. Be sure to drench it enough for water to run out of the pot’s drainage hole (no misting). Allow the soil to dry before watering again.

During winter, when the String of Dolphins is in its dormant period, reduce watering to once or twice a month. The plant requires less water during this time, as it is not actively growing.

Allow the soil to dry out partially between waterings. To check the moisture level of the soil, stick your finger about an inch into the soil, and if it feels dry, it’s time to water. If it still feels moist, wait a few more days before watering again.

The watering frequency may vary depending on factors such as the size of the pot, the type of soil, and the amount of sunlight the plant receives. Adjust the watering schedule accordingly to meet the specific needs of your succulent. It is important not to overwater, as this can cause root rot.

Soil

To ensure the health of succulents, it is important to plant them in a porous, well-draining substrate, specifically made for cactus and succulents. Succulents require little watering but don’t like to sit in wet soil. To create an adequate cactus mix, simply add pumice, perlite, or grit to cactus soil to provide the proper drainage.

This type of mix is good because it has a gritty texture that allows excess water to drain quickly, preventing the roots from sitting in water and potentially rotting. Additionally, use containers or pots with drainage holes to ensure proper drainage. This helps prevent water from pooling at the bottom of the pot and causing root rot.

Temperature and Humidity

It thrives between 50°F and 80°F. Bring this dolphin indoors when the weather is anything but mild. They tolerate winter temperatures as low as 40 °F (4 °C). If you live in an area with cold winters, you don’t have to be as careful placing your plant near cold or drafty windows.

String of Dolphins grows well in average household humidity levels when grown indoors. Does not like too much humidity. Normal household humidity is good for this plant.

How to propagate String of Dolphins

String of Dolphins, like many other succulent plants, can be propagated through cuttings. This method of propagation is the most popular and effective to create new plants from existing ones.

Here’s how you can do it:

Choose a long and healthy stem from the String of Dolphins plant that has several sets of leaves. Using a clean and sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears, cut the stem just below a set of leaves. This will be the cutting that you will propagate.

Place the cutting in a dry and shaded location for a few days to allow the cut end to callus over. This helps prevent rotting when the cutting is planted. Once the cut end has callused, you can plant the cutting in well-draining soil.

Use a cactus or succulent potting mix or create your own mix by combining regular potting soil with perlite or sand to improve drainage. Place the newly planted cutting in a location with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the delicate leaves.

After planting the cutting, lightly water the soil to moisten it. Be careful not to overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to rotting. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

Over time, the cutting will develop roots. You can gently tug on the cutting to check for resistance, indicating that roots have formed. Once the cutting has established a good root system, usually after a few weeks to a couple of months, you can transplant it into a larger pot or its permanent location.

Remember to be patient during the propagation process, as it can take some time for the cutting to develop roots and establish itself as a new plant. With proper care and attention, your propagated String of Dolphins will grow into a beautiful and unique succulent.

Repotting String of Dolphins

The best time to repot your String of Dolphins plant is during the spring or early summer when it’s actively growing. You will need a new pot that is one size larger than the old one. A terracotta pot is highly recommended as the clay helps wick moisture away from the roots.

Carefully remove the plant from its current pot and gently loosen the soil around it. Be cautious not to damage the delicate vines or roots.

Fill the new pot with well-draining cactus/succulent soil. You can also create your own mix by combining 2 parts potting soil, 1 part pumice or perlite, and 1 part sand.

Then place the String of Dolphins plant in the new pot, making sure it is centered, and add more soil around the plant, gently pressing it down to secure the plant in place. Leave some space at the top of the pot for watering.

After repotting, give the plant a thorough watering. Allow the excess water to drain out of the pot, and then place the plant in a bright, sunny location. Avoid watering the plant for a few days to allow it to adjust to its new pot. Resume regular watering once the soil has dried out.

Is String of Dolphins toxic to cats and dogs?

String of Dolphins is toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets. It contains irritant sap and pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause discomfort and potential liver failure if ingested in large quantities. Even a small amount can lead to symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.

If you suspect that your cat or dog has come into contact with or ingested String of Dolphins, it is important to take immediate action and seek professional help from a Veterinarian.

String of Dolphins Problems

Like any plant, String of Dolphins can encounter some common problems. Here are some of the common issues that you may face and their solutions:

Shriveling and Dying Leaves:

Shriveling leaves can indicate either underwatering or overwatering.

Solution: Check the moisture level of the soil by sticking your finger about an inch deep into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. If it feels moist, wait a few more days before watering again. Ensure that the plant is not sitting in water and that the pot has drainage holes. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Mealybug Infestations

Mealybugs are a common pest that can affect String of Dolphins succulents .

Solution: Regularly inspect your plant for signs of mealybugs, such as cottony white insects or yellowing leaves. If you spot them, remove them manually using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. In severe infestations, consider using natural insecticides like insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils. Isolate the infested plant to prevent the spread of mealybugs to other plants. Creating optimal growing conditions, such as proper lighting and airflow, can also help prevent mealybug infestations.

Leggy or Stretched Growth

Leggy or stretched growth occurs when the plant lacks adequate light, causing the plant to grow upwards.

Solution: Provide your String of Dolphins with sufficient indirect sunlight. Place it in a well-lit area or supplement natural light with artificial grow lights. Pruning the long and leggy stems can promote compact and bushy growth.

Leaf Loss

Factors such as overwatering, insufficient light, and physical damage can cause leaf loss in String of Dolphins succulents.

Solution: Avoid overwatering by allowing the soil to partially dry between waterings. Ensure that the plant receives adequate indirect light. Handle the plant with care to prevent physical damage to the delicate leaves.

Sparse Foliage

Sparse foliage can be a result of inadequate lighting and overwatering.

Solution: Provide your String of Dolphins with proper lighting conditions, either through natural sunlight or artificial grow lights. Avoid overwatering and allow the soil to partially dry between waterings.

FAQs

What is the difference between the string of bananas and the string of dolphins?

The main difference between the string of bananas and the String of Dolphins succulents lies in the shape of their leaves. The string of bananas (Senecio radicans) has curved, banana-shaped leaves.

On the other hand, the string of dolphins (Senecio peregrinus) has leaves that resemble leaping dolphins. Both plants belong to the same Senecio genus and have trailing vines, but their distinct leaf shapes make them easily distinguishable from each other.

Is String of Dolphins a succulent?

Yes, String of Dolphins (Senecio peregrinus) is indeed a succulent plant. It is a rare and highly sought-after hybrid of Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls) and Senecio articulatus (hot dog cactus) with cascading stems of plump leaves that resemble dolphins jumping out of the water.

Do String of Dolphins grow fast?

Generally, String of Dolphins is considered to be a relatively slow-growing succulent and may take some time for the plant to establish and start growing

However, the growth rate can vary depending on various factors such as light, temperature, and care. Patience and consistent care are key when it comes to the growth of String of Dolphins. It can gradually increase in size over time.

How often should I water my String of Dolphins?

String of Dolphins succulents should be watered once or twice a week during the growing season, which is from early spring to early fall. It is important to allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings to prevent overwatering and root rot.

During the dormant period in winter, watering should be reduced to once or twice a month.

Is String of Dolphins indoor or outdoor?

String of Dolphins, also known as Senecio Peregrinus, can be grown both indoors and outdoors. However, they are not frost-tolerant and require warm weather year-round to survive outdoors

Why is my String of Dolphins turning brown?

There are several reasons why your String of Dolphins plant may be turning brown, including overwatering and sunburn. Adjust your watering routine and provide the plant with the right amount of light to prevent and treat brown spots on your String of Dolphins. Pruning affected leaves and establishing a consistent care routine can also help maintain the plant’s health.

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